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Foreign Language

At BA, language communication, while definitely a central goal, is not the only focus of study in world language courses. Also, important is culture, focusing on the history, literature, civilization, and contemporary mores of the world communities speaking these languages. Students gain an understanding of the global and personal perspectives of target language communities, enabling them to establish connections and make comparisons with their own community and culture, leading to greater international understanding.

It is also our philosophy and a primary expectation, as recommended by the American Council on the teaching of Foreign Languages, that teachers use the target language 90% of the time in their instruction and that students be encouraged and required to communicate in the language while in class, both in interactions with the teacher and with one another. Research indicates that effective language instruction must provide significant levels of meaningful communication and interactive feedback in the target language in order for students to develop linguistic and cultural proficiency.

BA offers a program of modern language study in Spanish from basic entry levels through Advanced Placement (AP). Curriculum is focused on building language proficiency in the three modes of communication through authentic texts from various target language communities. Language and culture are based on everyday themes including: Contemporary Life, Personal and Public Identities, Global Issues, Science and Technology, Beauty and Aesthetics (including literature), and Families and Communities.  

BA students are required to take two high school level courses in Spanish or an online modern language. The sequence of courses is determined by the successful completion of prior courses, according to proficiency achieved and teacher recommendation, not by grade level. Advanced Placement courses provide students with rigorous instruction and therefore, are intended for juniors and seniors. To be successful, students must possess academic maturity and a strong work ethic.


Spanish I

This initiation to Spanish language study emphasizes the development of fundamental language skills. The objective of the course is to lay a solid foundation in the four skills of language — listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students practice pronunciation and intonation of the language, and they learn to recognize words and grasp the main ideas when listening to simple spoken Spanish. They develop basic conversational skills, grammatical knowledge for writing simple sentences, and reading skills at and beyond the level of “cognate Spanish.” As the year progresses students strive for novice-mid or greater proficiency in the three modes of communication and two skill areas within each one: interpretive listening and reading, interpersonal speaking and writing, and presentational speaking and writing. The goal of the program is to help students acquire linguistic skills and cultural awareness by interweaving language and culture, and by guiding them through a progression of activities from use of authentic language through structured practice to produce creative, personalized expression. The course is taught in Spanish, with increased use of authentic materials that deal with world themes. There is also emphasis on accurate pronunciation and intonation. Language skills are developed through class activities, recordings, and videos, as well as the use of the textbook, workbooks, and readings. Assessment of all communication is geared toward the novice-mid proficiency level.

Spanish II Honors

This is an intensive course designed for those who have demonstrated an exceptional talent and affinity for Spanish language and culture study. The overall goal of the Spanish II Honors course is to move students toward a natural and idiomatic communicative competence. The language learning process, which includes a contextualized review and building upon the foundation of first level topics and vocabulary units, and the introduction of concepts assigned typically to the second level, is accomplished through integrating modes of communication in authentic, real life application. The new material is no sooner introduced, than it becomes integrated into communicative contexts of the language promoted throughout textbook and Web-based interactive activities. Culture is also presented and integrated contextually as students are exposed to more authentic texts and learn to read Spanish with greater fluency, comprehension, and analytical skill. Audio and audiovisual resources, which accompany the text, drive the scope and sequence of the vocabulary and grammar curriculum, additionally providing instruction in cultural awareness and understanding. The honors track course distinguishes itself through its more rigorous pace and greater focus on higher order thinking and cognitively challenging communicative tasks, leading to more creative language use. Assessment of all communication is geared toward the intermediate-low proficiency level.

Spanish III Honors

This course is designed to more fully develop intermediate language skills in the three modes of communication: interpretive listening, reading, and viewing; interpersonal speaking and writing; and presentational speaking and writing. The Spanish III Honors course is designed to strengthen and to build upon the skills that students have acquired in previous levels. Grammatical concepts are reviewed and expanded to include more sophisticated vocabulary, taught in a meaningful, contextualized way. Students improve their listening skills through audio and video activities and develop their comprehension and analytical skills through exposure to authentic print passages of varying degrees of length, complexity, and cultural impact. Speaking and writing skills are developed through discussion and composition work, including both analysis and personal response to authentic texts, such as film clips and readings. Students are expected to apply learning in realistic communication, using Spanish to create meaning, as well as building intercultural competence through exploration of the perspectives of Spanish-speaking communities of the world. The honors track course distinguishes itself through its more rigorous pace and greater focus on higher order thinking and cognitively challenging communicative tasks, leading to more creative language production. Assessment of all communication is geared toward the intermediate-mid proficiency level.

Spanish IV Honors

This course provides an additional year of language study for students who are planning to take AP Spanish Language and Culture, but want or need another year to reinforce and advance their level of proficiency in interpretive listening and reading, interpersonal speaking and writing, and presentational speaking and writing, all areas that define language communication and are assessed on the AP exam. As a pre- AP course students work toward ease and clarity of expression as they reinforce and build on prior grammar and vocabulary. AP themes are introduced through plentiful authentic print, audio, and audiovisual resources, leading students to develop a rich, thematic vocabulary, which enables them to routinely communicate about the world in which they live. Learners not only develop greater proficiency in language communication, but also in cultural knowledge as they make connections and comparisons between Spanish-speaking communities of the world and their own community, ultimately leading to greater intercultural competency. An integrated approach to learning provides students interactive Web resources that both reinforce and enhance learning, within the classroom environment, at home, and in real-world application. Assessment of all communication is geared toward the intermediate-high proficiency level.

AP Spanish Language & Culture

AP Spanish Language and Culture is intended for students who wish to achieve greater proficiency (advanced-low to advanced-mid) while integrating their language skills, basing content on authentic materials and sources. Students who enroll should already have a functional knowledge of the language and cultures of Spanish-speaking peoples and should have attained a reasonable proficiency in using the language. Students explore the various themes and contexts of the AP Spanish curriculum while also considering essential questions that are addressed in the global community. Products, practices, and perspectives of Spanish-speaking cultures of the world are explored and strengthened, while also comparing them to the students’ home community and culture. All authentic print, audio, and audiovisual materials are engaging, relevant, and especially appropriate as they give students thematic vocabulary and contextualized grammar and structure, all with the goal of reaching greater communicative competence.

The AP Spanish Language and Culture course helps prepare students to demonstrate their level of Spanish proficiency across three communicative modes (interpersonal [interactive communication], interpretive [receptive communication], and presentational [productive communication]), and the five goal areas as outlined in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities). The course is meant to be comparable to fifth semester college and university courses that focus on spoken and written communication in the target language at an advanced level. Higher order thinking is key as students seek to analyze, evaluate, infer, conclude, and predict within the various contexts explored. Grammar and vocabulary are reinforced, reviewed, and strengthened in meaningful context, making learning more relevant and natural.

Aida Ramirez
Greg Thompson 
Upper School Spanish  
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